Diet…What a Riot!

I went to a conference on healthy eating and they emphasized the fact that the first three letters in diet, are d-i-e. Die.  No wonder we hate the idea. So, first I would consider losing that word altogether. Deprivation isn’t something that has much appeal and the word diet implies deprivation in most of our minds.

People always want the easy answer, the quick fix. In our modern age, patience for achievement is not something we have mastered. They want me to stick a needle in a certain place and have all the weight disappear. Believe me, I get it, I want all my problems solved instantaneously as well, but very often that isn’t how it works.

When asked what the right foods are to eat and how much someone needs to exercise my reply is something along the lines of “Exercise often, eat as many vegetables as possible and avoid fried and processed foods.”  Usually I just get stared at in return. They already knew that…Of course you already knew that!!! But why haven’t you implemented it in your life?

When people come to me with a desire to loose weight or go on a diet I always ask them why. If this is a goal of yours you must first understand the real reasons for the desire. I think this is true of any desire. If you truly know why you want to fulfill that desire you will be more likely to do the things you need to in order to achieve it.  People already have the knowledge that healthy eating habits and a healthy weight lead to more energy, less illness, disease prevention and a better quality of life but this isn’t necessarily their true motivation. Knowing the why will help you to implement your how. What do you want for yourself in terms of health? What is it worth to you? Are you still interested in achieving your goal after you know the real reasons behind it? These are essential things to ask yourself before implementing any change.

The massive amounts of information surrounding food and what we should and should not ingest is overwhelming. Macrobiotics, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, Ayurvedic, Blood type… there are a million different strategies that have worked for certain individuals and they swear by them. However, diet cannot be based solely on theory. An individual’s constitutional, environmental, regional and other unique factors must be taken into account. In order to know what is good for you, you must first know yourself. Guidelines are useful, theory can be helpful. Keeping a food journal recording what, when, how much and how the foods you ingest make you feel is a practical tool. If you need help, you should always ask. Nutritionists, therapists, health and lifestyle coaches act as great guides. But in the end, the best person to plan and figure out the foods you should eat, to plan your “diet,” well, its you.

Live In The Hope of Today

Staying Present is a Present

You plan for your future. You reflect on your past. So what do you do in the present? Most of us spend the present thinking about those first two things. We worry about the future. We play should have, could have, would have with the past. When we have conversations with our peers, instead of really listening, we plan our response before they finish their thought. We run ahead trying to get ahead, grabbing the reins of life to makes ourselves believe we have complete control of our futures. We don’t have time for right now.

Can you appreciate the present, your presence, and the gift that it is? Can you wake up everyday thankful for the sun that shines and the rain that nurtures the earth? Every day can bring new thoughts, ideas, opportunities, and new people. Do you know the hope and possibility that every moment can bring? For example, this moment, right now.

We like to think that once certain milestones are achieved, such as success, a certain income, award, or relationship we will truly know happiness. Let me be the first to tell you, you can have all those things but happiness is not guaranteed because of them. Real happiness only comes when we are able to find contentment no matter the circumstance and situations that surround us so it is best just to start right now, today. It is well and good to have goals but there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the process of achieving them. Everyday is a gift, tomorrow is promised to no one. We have all heard these things preached but it is difficult to take them to heart. Plan your future, learn from the past, but try to be here, now. Notice something beautiful in this moment. Be thankful now. Be happy now. Enjoy yourself, NOW. Hum while you work, enjoy a deep breath, make every task a game and live in the hope of today.

Thank you for using this wonderful moment in a wonderful way by reading my blog today 🙂

-Andrea

Fight The Funk

Don’t Feed It

Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed? Nothing has even had a chance to happen yet and you aren’t in a good mood already. You fight the urge to pull the covers up over your head and stomp around getting ready for your day. Sometimes hormones, nagging thoughts, or other circumstances creep in and bring us down. You feel angry, irritable or anxious, and little thoughts begin to sneak in and catch you off guard. Dragging you down into your own self-indulgent depressing depths.

Negative thoughts have the tendency to lead to more negative thoughts so it is important to break this cycle as soon as possible. Most of the negative things we tell ourselves are complete lies anyway. That’s right. I’m calling you a liar. You think you aren’t good enough, you think it isn’t possible. You think work is too hard, there is too much to do, you’ll never get it done, you’ll never meet the right person. I don’t know what bologna you tell yourself but I’m calling you out, right now. You are a liar. You can do and have all the things you truly want. So when the lies start piling in, see them for what they are, lies. Be aware that they are not useful and do something more productive with your brain.

Suggestions on Fighting the Funk

Go for a walk

Play the opposite game. Anything that pops into your head that is negative, turn it upside down and tell yourself that instead. For example “I will never have enough money” will turn into ” I will always have an abundance of money.”

Sing in the Shower

Put on dance music and move your body and sing along for five minutes before diving into the chores, errands, and work of the day.

Scream. Really Loud.  Jump up and down, stomp your feet. Throw a huge tantrum. “It’s not fair!!!” Maybe it isn’t so you got out it. Now you can move on and enjoy all the good things.

Exercise

Think good thoughts for yourself.

Laugh, Google something funny.

If you can’t bring yourself to think good thoughts for yourself, think good thoughts about someone else.

Call a friend

Read something inspirational

Plan fun so you have something to look forward to.

E-mail me. I’ll write you back and say something nice. I promise.

Turn your frown, upside down!!!

Okay, Good Luck!!!

Patience on the Path

Patience with The Process

In a perfect world all my produce would come from my own organic garden. I would prepare meals with a sense of peace and sit down to dinner at four with a smile and no distractions from the joy of food. I would have time to digest before bed as I spent the rest of my night marveling at the beauty of the world while I watched the setting sun from my front porch swing cuddling a cup of herbal tea.

Seeking a healthy lifestyle can be a long, bumpy, pot-holed muddy road. There are millions of decisions to make everyday that will shape how we look, feel, and perform. Our jobs, families, friends, stress, money and other responsibilities affect how we are able to take care of ourselves. When we decide we want to make better choices it is often difficult at first. My journey towards a healthy diet has been anything but instant. Health is about how we feed our mouths, minds, bodies, hearts and souls. An attempt to satisfy even one of these aspects is to be applauded and patience is key in this process.

I was raised on fast food. My parents worked full-time and my options every night were Mcdonalds, Wendys, or Taco bell. For lunch my brother and I would use the microwave to prepare frozen pizza or macaroni and cheese, the kind with the powder. When my mother did cook it was hot dogs and baked beans. She never drank plain water so I wasn’t introduced to this option until well into my teens where I found it revolting without the corn syrup and sugar I was used to. We were given lunch money and I would choose a meal of french fries and an undercooked chocolate chip cookie at the school cafeteria. My diet growing up consisted mostly of chemicals, by-products, and artificial sweeteners.

As a teenager, I was normal, very uncomfortable in my skin. The popular girls were starting to go on diets and I wanted to be cool too. So my path began as a way to try to fit in. I would pour over the glossy girls in the magazines trying to be like them but without the right information I thought garlic bread was health food and apple pie qualified as a fruit. The diet food in the frozen section became a staple.

I slowly gained more knowledge through mentors, classes, and research. I gave up soda all together in college and lost ten pounds. Foods I used to qualify as healthy, like wheat thins and granola bars made it into the junk food category. Today I never use a microwave and avoid anything processed or out of a box. However, I still allow myself wine and have a hard time saying no to icecream when everyone decides to go to the stand in the middle of the summer. When I find myself at a bakery with a reputation I dive into that day’s specialty. I do not have my own garden but know one day that will be a reality. I understand that making healthy choices doesn’t mean giving up all the foods I love and that health above all is about balance.

When I started to make better food choices it snowballed and I wanted to make more better choices and things continued to get easier. It started as a focus on diet and getting flat abs but the path to fitting in changed and expanded into other areas of my life. Now I know I want to be happy, so that is my goal. I also know that it is very hard to be happy without being healthy. So I have to be healthy first. Other things I have done include taking up drawing and writing, learning meditations, studying yoga, and the power of positive thinking. They all feed another part of me. Sometimes I fall off my be my best-self wagon, this can last anywhere from one meal to one month.

I have certain expectations of myself but try to remember when I make any choice I am not proud of the best thing to do is to move on. Any disappointment I hold onto is substantially more destructive than the piece of cake I chose to eat, the run I didn’t take, or the three hours of TV I decided to sit on the couch and watch. I do my best, and that is the most we can hope for ourselves. I encourage you in your own journey, which is yours and yours alone. The information out there is vast and overwhelming. Take advice or leave it and know that no one will know you as well as you know yourself. Only you can know what the right choices are and that can be frustrating in a world where we expect others to have all the answers. Change often involves taking a step into the unknown.. Even if you change one thing, you deserve to be proud, as change is always hard.

Food Over Fashion, Greens Over Gucci

Buy Better For Beauty, Health, and Happiness

The current economy has put many of our budgets under scrutiny. We have to choose where our money will best be spent in the long run. Most of us know that processed, refined, and fast food will not put us on the fast track to feeling healthy and vibrant. However, short on time and money, these are what we end up choosing. We put away and save up for clothes, cars, electronics and things for the home. We work really hard and put in extra time at work with the hopes that one day we will go on vacation. Although, I am pretty sure I have never heard anyone say “I’m saving up so I can buy organic vegetables this week.” I think the things our culture puts emphasis on is changing. Health food stores are going into neighborhoods around the country. Many of the larger super markets are now carrying organic products.  Let me further encourage this revolution for you in your own life and the investment you put into yourself.

When you choose to fill your grocery cart with kale, broccoli, beans and whole grains you are actually investing in your happiness, your beauty, and your health. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals with lead to glowing skin and  full, shiny hair. Any excess weight will begin to melt away as an added side effect. Vanity is a huge motivator. We all want to be attractive and foods rich in chlorophyll will leave you looking luminous.   You will have more energy which will allow you to participate in more activities. You may even be more productive at work!

Short term, you may be happier to have the fast food, the sugared pastry, or the boxed, processed dinner. However,  I would bet that shortly after you ingest those things your energy will dip, you will feel bloated, and you’ll become grouchy. Bloated and sexy don’t usually go together. Choosing to consistently make better choices in your food quality will have the consequence of you consistently feeling healthier. It is much easier to find happiness from a state of health than it is from a state of illness. Try jumping for joy when you have a stomach ache, it will be a difficult task I assure you. So, the healthier you are the happier you will be able to feel.

So indulge in produce, stay away from boxes, and if the ingredient list is more than four, put it back on the shelf.  You don’t have the time or money to waste on any of the side effects from chemicals, artery clogging grease and fats, toxins or metals. You’re too busy living your happy, healthy, beautiful life.

Hang Out With a 1 and 1/2 Year Old

Copy whatever they do, aside from using your pants as the bathroom and eating crumbs off the floor.

I have a niece that is one and a half. She runs around the kitchen island laughing her head off for no reason what so ever. She smiles, giggles, runs some more… she is not even that good at running! It is more of a flat footed waddle. She does it anyway. She loves making other people smile and will do anything for a laugh. When you sneeze, it is funny. When she sneezes, it is hilarious! She is curious and interested in everything. She is just as entertained by the television as she is by a piece of thread on the floor. Actually, she may be more interested in the thread. If music is playing she instinctively starts moving her body to the beat, laughing again.  She delights in her surroundings and the people that give her attention. She asks for affection when she needs it and asks  to be put down when she wants time to play. She can entertain herself with a key ring. She does this all without expectation, without thinking about tomorrow, without worrying.  She builds things without rhyme or reason to structure, because rhyme or reason isn’t the point for her. She just does it because it brings her and those around her joy.

There is something amazing about being around that kind of innocence. Watching someone discover the world for the first time. When did we stop doing that? My niece is continually learning and discovering and growing and she is happy. When she sees something bright and colorful she exclaims “ohhhhhwow!” So maybe we should take a note from my niece. Learning, discovering, and growing appear to lead to happiness. Smiling and laughing are a couple other key ingredients.

Watching her smile is contagious. So is the fascination she has with everything she encounters. When she tells me she loves me, when she cuddles into me before bed, that is the kind of heart melting stuff we all deserve in our lives. I am very lucky to have such an incredible teacher in my life. Even if you don’t have your own one and half year old, go out there and try to see the world for the first time. Find comfort in a coloring book. Notice everything around you and rediscover.  Move your body to the beat. Smile your biggest smile and run around. Laugh if you fall.  Ask for affection if you need it. Find delight in trying to bring other people happiness.

Advice of The Day

Write Your Own Happy Ending

And all the different versions of that. I don’t mean just the things you think you might possibly be able to achieve, I mean your biggest and greatest and most amazing life. What does that look like?

It is important to be happy now, no matter the circumstances, but most of us have ideals, dreams, and things we want for our futures. Think of this story as a series of goals you have for yourself. When we begin living in a way that doesn’t have us working towards our own personal version of our greatest life, we may find it harder to find happiness in the here and now. So this story will ultimately lead to increased happiness because you will learn more about yourself and how to be true to that self. It is important to know what your own version of happiness looks like so you can make sure that the life you are living now will lead you to your ultimate goals. It may even inspire new direction. If your happy ending entails you being a famous composer and you currently don’t know what a music note looks like then you will know that you have some learning to do. So write it! So you will know.

As you write your fairy tale try to be as truthful with yourself as possible. Only include the things you truly want for yourself. Avoid writing about things you think you should want because society, peers, or the media told you that you should want them. Stay true to what is in your heart and be specific. Include details of your dream house, dream job, the perfect relationships in your life, the level of contentment you’ve obtained and the things you’ve accomplished. Be grateful for them all. Include pictures and drawings if you’d like. Write about the instruments you play, the movie you were in, the book you wrote, the building you designed, the race you won, how perfectly manicured your toes are each and everyday…whatever it is you truly see as the happiest life you could possibly have. Write about the amount of money in your bank account and being debt free and having enough money to give to those in need. Write about how healthy you are everyday. It is important when you are writing this to know that anything is possible. Miracles have happened for others so why can’t they happen for you?  Refuse to put yourself in a box, parameters do not exist. You can have anything at all that this world has to offer. Who we are and what we want tends to change throughout life so you have full permission to edit and re-edit your story.

Keep this story somewhere and reread it. It is easier to get what you want in life if you have a clear idea of what that is.  Putting these things on paper will allow you to have a true sense of yourself and goals.  Ask yourself if your current life style, habits, and attitudes are leading you on this amazing destiny you have created for yourself. If not, then you know something needs to change. Once you know that, you can readjust and get back on the path towards your ideal life.

My best to you and your happy ending!

-Andrea